A massive gold coin weighing in at 221 pounds was improbably nicked by thieves from Berlin’s Bode Museum yesterday, Monday, March 27, at around 3:30 a.m.
The coin, known as “Big Maple Leaf,” is a commemorative piece that was issued by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2007, and features an image of Queen Elizabeth II on one side and the eponymous Canadian maple leaf on the other.
Measuring about 21 inches in diameter and over an inch in thickness, the giant hunk of gold is included in the Guinness Book of World Records for its size and purity. Though the coin’s face value is 1 million Canadian dollars ($750,000), measuring it by its gold mass alone renders it far more valuable: current market prices would place it around $4.5 million.
Despite its hefty size and weight, the thieves were successful in hauling “Big Maple Leaf” through the museum and up one floor before absconding with it through the same window in which they presumably entered. Police were notified of the break-in around 4 a.m., an estimated 15-30 minutes after the theft took place.
“Based on the information we have so far, we believe that the thief, maybe thieves, broke open a window in the back of the museum next to the railway tracks,” said police spokesman Winfrid Wenzel in a public statement. “They then managed to enter the building and went to the coin exhibition.”
Wenzel went on to say that the bulletproof glass protecting the coin “appeared to have been violently shattered.” A ladder later found nearby on the S-Bahn tracks is assumed to have been used to gain access to the building.
The Bode Museum—located on Berlin’s Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site—is renowned for its coin collection, boasting 102,000 coins from ancient Greece and about 50,000 Roman coins.
Michael Eissenhauer, Director-General of the Berlin State Museums (SMB) said in a statement, “A theft is for a museum director one of the worst news of all. We are shocked that the burglars have overcome our security systems, which have been successfully protecting our objects for many years … We hope that the perpetrators will be caught and the precious coin will return undamaged to the Coin Cabinet of the Bode Museum. “
Follow artnet News on Facebook.